Australia Marine Conservation Society - KI Branch

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MARINE >> Australia Marine Conservation Society - KI Branch

The AMCS, Kangaroo Island Branch, was formed to provide facts and local contacts to community members interested in marine topics. The local branch actively assists research scientist, coordinates and produces public educational displays, provides a community resource base for individuals or groups seeking to become involved with marine topics and issues.

"Who needs the ocean? We do. Every breath we take is linked to the sea. This vast, three-dimensional realm, accounting for 97 percent of Earth's water, also makes up more than 95 percent of the biosphere. The living ocean drives planetary chemistry, governs climate and weather, and otherwise provides the cornerstone of the life-support system for all creatures, from deep-sea starfish to a desert bush. That's why the ocean matters. If the sea is sick, we'll feel it. If it dies, we die. Our future and the state of the oceans are one." quote from Sylvia A. Earle, International Oceanographer, in the book Sea Change, 1996, Putnam's Sons.

This site is provided through the voluntary services of local community and the Kingscote Area School. Items on the site are intended to provide educational information for community and students seeking factual resources. Through this site we hope to keep others abreast with local marine biology, relevant research from Kangaroo Islands temperate waters and AMCSKI. We will also use this site to post periodic updates from the two AMCSKI related Coast Care projects: Hog Bay Reef and Pelican Lagoon. If you would like automatic updates, please register your interest and forward your e-mail address to

Kangaroo Island Branch
Post Office Penneshaw
5222 South Australia.
Fax: (0848) 31002

May 1997

Kangaroo Island is located within temperate waters. Recent surveys including departmental divers and community divers have recorded a number of plant and invertebrate marine species not previously known to occur in these waters. Of particular interest are a tropical water feather star of the genus Ptilometra and an
Antarctic algae from the genus Dasya.

Tuna holding operations in South Australia are having difficulties finding suitable sites for topping up condition of wild caught fish before shipping to market. Early this season existing unused oyster leases were considered for upgrading to tuna farm leases. Among these sites were sections the Backstairs Passage at the eastern end of Kangaroo Island. Through a process of registering community concerns, a number of
significant questions were raised:

* How much nutrient do 50 thousand penned tuna put into the waters of Backstairs Passage on a daily basis?
* What affect will increased nutrient loads have on the temperate reefs, temperate benthic flora and fauna?
* What are the problems inherent with increased nutrient loads?
* Penneshaw township focuses on the coastal environment. What provisions are available for residents to recoup lost tourism income resulting in decreased aesthetic value, loss of opportunities for marine ecotourism, decreased use of area due to perceived shark presence?

To date these questions have not been acknowledged or answered by the Development Assessment Commission of South Australia. AMCSKI have assisted by supplying names and contacts where the community can access factual information. This has been working well but there seems to be a major rush by the aquaculture organisations to push things through before too much interest is expressed. We are interested to hear from other community groups who have become involved in similar issues.

DRAGON SEARCH has opened a community education display at the new Penneshaw Kangaroo Island Information Centre. The display is well illustrated with photographs of local leafy seadragons provided by AMCSKI branch members. Little is known about the life history of the Weedy or Leafy Seadragons in the wild. Presently there are no successful planned captive breeding programs for these species yet they can be removed from the wild under license. There is concern in South Australian waters over the apparent decline of local populations from unknown causes. DRAGON SEARCH is a community based survey of seadragons in South Australian waters sponsored by Ocean Rescue 2000, SARDI, MCCN, MISA,
MLSSA, Coastcare, and the National Threatened Species Network SA.

"The world's ocean is a huge reservoir for life, from shallow seas to the Mariana Trench. But humans of our century have endangered this reservoir, with wholesale destruction of nearshore habitats, tropical fringing reef systems, invertebrates and fishes and several whales and dolphins as well. Ozone depletion is choking the life of the ocean by changing the delicate balance of rains, evaporation and global climate itself. It is not too late, for with studies of life comes knowledge. Knowledge can lead to wisdom and wisdom to the chance to effectively change our ways. For this, we need your help." Dr. Bernd Wursig, New Zealand Marine Biologist ; quote from Earthwatch 1997 Expeditions.


Since the winter solstice a lot has been happening on Kangaroo Island which is affecting the sea around us. Local divers and community have been involved with three Coastcare Programs: Hog Bay Reef, Pelican Lagoon Seagrass Ecosystems and Nepean Bay Marine Monitoring. All three programs are involved with trying to get a better understanding of what is a sustainable marine environment.

As a result of the community interest in Seadragons in our area, AMCSKI linked with Dragon Search to bring a travelling educational exhibition to the island. The initial venue was at the new Penneshaw Kangaroo Island Information Centre where several thousand visitors viewed the display and contributed a number of Seadragon Sighting Reports. The display is now travelling through the community schools and will open at Jenny Clapsons Gallery in Kingscote for the spring/summer holiday season.

A second community display for the Information Centre was prepared by the KI Branch with help from GreenCorps Volunteers who are working on the island. Hog Bay Reef, the Temperate World of Colour is a spectacular array of local shallow water denizens presented as colour photographs by community diver Pauline Barrett.

The display links with the current Hog Bay coastcare community program. AMCSKI Branch President John Lavers is getting weekly assistance from the local school measuring sand movements around Hog Bay. Other community members are assisting in marine biology, geography of the bay and local marine archaeology.

The KI Branch presented a written submission to the Development Assesment Commissson concerning proposed Upgrading of Aquaculture Leases from Muscle Lease to Tuna Lease in Backstairs Passage. A second submission focussing on feedlot operations for blue fin tuna was forwarded to the Environment Resources & Development Committee. This submission was timely in view of the recent IUCN/WWF statement on world decline of Blue Fin Tuna fisheries. Members of the KI Branch are also involoved in a larger hearing on Aquacultre in South Australia. Local school children have also become interested in aquaculture and how it interacts with our community. Students of the Penneshaw Area School sent letters
and illustrations of their interest to the Environment Resources & Development Committee of the South Australian Upper House which at the present time is looking at the affects of aquaculture. This committee includes Senator Mike Elliot.

South Australian Ports Corp recently commissioned a proposal for a major development of a breakwater at Hog Bay Kangaroo Island. This proposal was released for public comment late July and has generated a lot of interest. Concerned community have asked the AMCSKI Branch to act on their behalf and present a
number of issues for consideration. Amongst major points are inaccuracies in maps for the proposed development, insufficient data on currents within the bay, insufficient data on the sand movements within the bay, and oversight of registered archaeological sites under the Commonwealth Marine Historical Shipwreck Act.

Local divers have been helping biologist and marine botanist to record the temperate life of Backstairs Passage. This is a narrow passage separating the east end of KI from mainland South Australia. Extreme currents and predominantly high winds make this an interesting area to work. The nearby Pages are home to the largest breeding colony of Australian Sealions (Neophoca cinerea) and the area is frequented by resident dolphin pods and migrating whales. Recently tropical water invertebrates and cold water marine plants have also been found resident on the island side of the passage. Extensive beds of marine sponges, crinoids and soft corals add to the rich temperate biota.

"Humans are not custodians of nature, but part of it. In the biosphere of this universe, our species is one minute speck. Whereas humans argue and debate their role on the planet, nature continues. By observing and learning from organisms which have existed and will continue to exist independent of our species, we establish a perspective of another reality. Loss of perspective is deadly. In human society, money makes the world go round. In nature money will never make the sun come up. Understanding our place in nature is not key to the planets continued existence, but it is to ours." quote from Dr. Peggy Rismiller, Australian Environmental Physiologist, presenting a Public Lecture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, November 1996, subsequently reproduced in Earthwatch 1997 Expeditions Update.

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